jasonbourne
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dual/quad core alternatives

Sun Jan 04, 2015 7:00 am

Hi,

Is there a slightly more powerful but stable and mature pocket computer like the raspberry pi? Odroid seems interesting but their shipping charges kill.

If nothing else in the spirit of "education", rpi should come up with a dual core model....

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Re: dual/quad core alternatives

Sun Jan 04, 2015 10:21 am

I don't think you will find any dual core or higher arm boards with anywhere near the same level of software maturity and community size the Raspberry pi has.

If you are looking for a cheap dual core arm board with reasonable support i'd probablly look at the allwinner A20 based stuff. The board makers don't provide much support but afaict there is a reasonablly active community over at linux-sunxi http://linux-sunxi.org/Main_Page

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Re: dual/quad core alternatives

Sun Jan 04, 2015 2:47 pm

jasonbourne,

This topic is already under discussion on this very forum, here:
http://www.raspberrypi.org/forums/viewt ... 62&t=95420

Follow the link in the first post to a list of the best 40 ARM boards you can get today.

As plugwash says none of them have the maturity and community support of the Pi. So you are going to find yourself a bit out on a limb when you have problems with it or want to do something a bit out of the ordinary. Still if you really need the speed or something else, like SATA interface, you might find something there.

Which brings us to the question, why would the Raspberry Pi Foundation need to be in a hurry to produce a dual core model?

Speed is nice and all. And if you want it there is the list above to turn to already.

One of the most crucial advantages of the Pi is that there are four million of them out there. There is a huge user base, community, to offer help, support and advice, here and on thousand of blogs and other places. The fact that all Pi are basically the same is a huge win for cross fertilization of idea, projects, hints and tips etc etc etc.

Change the hardware, and you have blown all that away. Not a good idea.

Plus developing it and perfecting it to the maturity of the current Pi is an expensive and lengthy proposition.

I'm not say that there should only ever be one Pi. But the current "island of stability" is invaluable to it's user base.
Last edited by Heater on Sun Jan 04, 2015 2:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: dual/quad core alternatives

Sun Jan 04, 2015 2:50 pm

plugwash wrote:I don't think you will find any dual core or higher arm boards with anywhere near the same level of software maturity and community size the Raspberry pi has.
This is my impression, too.
And software maturity and community count.

What Jason and others (including me) would be interested in: over a year ago Mr. Eben Upton mentioned a potential and more powerful Raspberry Pi follower for the future in a presentation/conference video. I don't remember the video's date and exact wording, maybe others remember -- if so, please link to it. Thanks.

Do we have any news on these ideas of Mr. Upton?

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Re: dual/quad core alternatives

Sun Jan 04, 2015 2:54 pm

Fidelius wrote:
plugwash wrote:I don't think you will find any dual core or higher arm boards with anywhere near the same level of software maturity and community size the Raspberry pi has.
This is my impression, too.
And software maturity and community count.

What Jason and others (including me) would be interested in: over a year ago Mr. Eben Upton mentioned a potential and more powerful Raspberry Pi follower for the future in a presentation/conference video. I don't remember the video's date and exact wording, maybe others remember -- if so, please link to it. Thanks.

Do we have any news on these ideas of Mr. Upton?
Reading the sticky may help :?: http://www.raspberrypi.org/forums/viewt ... 63&t=56598
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Re: dual/quad core alternatives

Sun Jan 04, 2015 3:13 pm

fruitoftheloom wrote:Reading the sticky may help :?: http://www.raspberrypi.org/forums/viewt ... 63&t=56598
Thanks. Yes, there is is:
jamesh wrote:Eben Upton, Founder, has stated in public that he would expect a NEW board between two and three years from now (Sept 2013). In all likelihood,this would be a device with a new SoC with more power and more memory, and perhaps other features yet to be decided.

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Re: dual/quad core alternatives

Sun Jan 04, 2015 3:44 pm

So perhaps in a minimum of one or two years from now, but I expect it will be much longer, (3 to 5 years) the larger the number sold the higher the requirement to keep the design exactly the same, and not break any previous efforts.

I could be wrong off course, but it certainly also depends on the availability of a cheap enough SoC, that is compatible enough with the current one, and I don't see one on the horizon.

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Re: dual/quad core alternatives

Sun Jan 04, 2015 3:48 pm

mahjongg wrote:So perhaps in a minimum of one or two years from now, but I expect it will be much longer, (3 to 5 years) the larger the number sold the higher the requirement to keep the design exactly the same, and not break any previous efforts.
All what is needed is for a manufacturer to agree to make 1GB PoP Memory, which is feasible, then it will extend the life of the RPi BCM2835 family
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Re: dual/quad core alternatives

Sun Jan 04, 2015 3:54 pm

What you think is feasible, and what is actually feasible are two things, they stopped designing this kind of PoP memory many years ago, and making a specific one for the BCM2835 requires such an investment that the minimal quotum they need must be many millions. Its perhaps just in the range of reality, but only just. And they also have to make it for the same price, which puts it outside reality!

However big the PI (movement) is, it could not have happened if it could not "lend a ride" on the availability of a SoC that was already obsolete thus cheap enough when it was chosen, and the availability of other parts, including compatible PoP memories that were already on the market too.

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Re: dual/quad core alternatives

Sun Jan 04, 2015 4:29 pm

Heater wrote:
Which brings us to the question, why would the Raspberry Pi Foundation need to be in a hurry to produce a dual core model?
Modern computing is based on multi-core/multi-cpu architecture. It is also the only way forward to increase computing power of devices. If people have to learn about computers, they should eventually become aware of multicore architecture.

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Re: dual/quad core alternatives

Sun Jan 04, 2015 5:46 pm

Pretty much all the hardware that has been out for at least a few months can--probably--be considered "stable" or possibly even "mature". That limits the field quite a bit, as most dual- or more core boards haven't been around very long. The oldest ones I know of are the Cubieboards (1, which is single core, and 2 which is dual core). The boards are the same, The only difference is replacing the A10 win an A20.

That said, I'm not at all sure that there are any really "mature" software packages for those boards. I've been using Raspbian for a while (about 18 months on a Cubie1, about 6 months on a Cubie2), and I haven't found any stability issues, but I'm not doing anything at all exotic with them. Raspbian certainly doesn't take full advantage of the chips, though, since the A10/A20 are ARMv7.

I can say that, while the hardware seems to be okay (from the perspective of the questions at hand), the software for the Odroid-C1 (quad-core) is no where near ready for prime time.

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Re: dual/quad core alternatives

Sun Jan 04, 2015 6:10 pm

@jasonbourne
The RasPi is not really a modern "computer", it is a computing device. By this I mean it was never meant to supplant either desktops or laptop computer systems. It is not meant to replace tablets either. It is a learning "tool".

There are many alternatives to the Raspberry Pi. But as has been said do not expect the support or knowledge base that is available here. Become comfortable with the RasPi, then move on to another board that meets your needs better.

The fact that the Raspberry Pi has become so much more than its original design is great! But the overriding design limit is its price. The foundation decided the price ranges for its A(+) and B(+) models and appears to intend to stick with them, or lower them by redesign in the case of the A+. You can expect a new model to be bound within these price ranges, if I am guessing right.

@fruitoftheloom
There is no demand for a larger PoP module of this type from the market. It would take more than just the foundation to want a new unit for it to become a reality.

I suspect the designers at the foundation have been mulling over the possibilities since before Eben made his announcement. It will help them that the Raspberry Pi has far outsold anyones expectations of the demand for such a board. But I still do not think they are in a position to order 1 million units of SoC's to get the best price. So they will probably have to look at near end of life products again to make any upgraded board, and/or get someone like Broadcom to help them along again.
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Re: dual/quad core alternatives

Sun Jan 04, 2015 6:38 pm

Short answer:

No.

Long answer:

The Raspberry Pi has been available for almost three years - and in that time has sold over 4M units.

As someone else said (sorry, forgot who) the Raspberry Pi is not an SBC, it is a movement.

Due to the focus on education, and large (for an SBC) installed base, the Raspberry Pi has a HUGE community infrastructure.

None of the dual/quad core SBC's that are similar in form factor and price to the Raspberry Pi have sold even a tenth the volume (with most selling 1/100th or less), and thus, do not have anywhere near the same size community.

Undoubtedly some other similar SBC's will garner more sales and attention than they currently have over the next few years, however you can bet that the Raspberry Pi will continue to sell well in that time. Why?

Because it strikes an excellent price/usability ratio for its target market - education.

The other dual/quad core solutions are aimed at more technical users, not kids in school - and thus have more features, processor power etc, but cannot garner a community as large as the Pi due to a much more limited market. Manufacturer support can still be good for some of the SBC's, but the forums will have only 1/100th or 1/1000th of the volume of postings, and thus much less user based support.

"courses for horses"

ie

"right tool for the right job"

The flip side is that the more technical users who need the additional capabilities are more technically inclined, and require less support.
jasonbourne wrote:Hi,

Is there a slightly more powerful but stable and mature pocket computer like the raspberry pi? Odroid seems interesting but their shipping charges kill.

If nothing else in the spirit of "education", rpi should come up with a dual core model....
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Re: dual/quad core alternatives

Sun Jan 04, 2015 7:30 pm

jasonbourne wrote:
Heater wrote:
Which brings us to the question, why would the Raspberry Pi Foundation need to be in a hurry to produce a dual core model?
Modern computing is based on multi-core/multi-cpu architecture. It is also the only way forward to increase computing power of devices. If people have to learn about computers, they should eventually become aware of multicore architecture.
I sort of disagree with this. Going multicore does increase compute power but it's not the only way. And really, you can learn everything you need to know about multicore (for the standard engineer) on a single core device - multiprocess is perfectly possible on a single core device, and that's where the learning needs to be. Multi core does introduce its own complexities, but that level of education is well outside the range of schools. It's mostly at the hardware, cache level rather than software.
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Re: dual/quad core alternatives

Sun Jan 04, 2015 10:18 pm

jamesh wrote: I sort of disagree with this. Going multicore does increase compute power but it's not the only way. And really, you can learn everything you need to know about multicore (for the standard engineer) on a single core device - multiprocess is perfectly possible on a single core device, and that's where the learning needs to be. Multi core does introduce its own complexities, but that level of education is well outside the range of schools. It's mostly at the hardware, cache level rather than software.
I partially disagree... Multicore matters to software...at the OS level. To a lesser extent, multicore matters as soon as the programming starts looking at massively parallel systems. I agree that neither of those areas are going to be addressed with school children.

Then there is the issue that, when a system is being used by a single user, going to more than about 2 cores isn't going to have a significant increase in overall throughput. With two cores, you can have the OS running on one core and the--likely--single application running on the other, effectively removing the bulk of the system overhead from slowing down the application. At 3 cores...what runs on the third? Any core without a task ready to dispatch on it isn't going to add anything at all to performance. So until an application is run that can make use of independent processing units is used, a SBC isn't likely to benefit from more than 2 cores.

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Re: dual/quad core alternatives

Mon Jan 05, 2015 10:39 am

Well, any multi-process OS will use all the cores - at any time Linux has a multitude of processes running, which can run on any core. Spreading the OS load over the multiple cores will improve performance. Perhaps not hugely, and the OS is fairly well optimised. And of course, a multithreaded program will also take advantage - builds for example will be improved when you can set multiple jobs. And what about running X? Extra cores are more than welcome when you have lots of graphics rendering to do.
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Re: dual/quad core alternatives

Mon Jan 05, 2015 2:30 pm

Nvidia announce Tegra X1, octa-core CPU and 256 GPU cores at CES2015

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/01/05 ... _cpu_cars/

Do I want one?


Yes please!!

(as long as it isn't the £200 of the previous tegra board... )

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Re: dual/quad core alternatives

Mon Jan 05, 2015 5:48 pm

marked wrote:Nvidia announce Tegra X1, octa-core CPU and 256 GPU cores at CES2015

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/01/05 ... _cpu_cars/

Do I want one?


Yes please!!

(as long as it isn't the £200 of the previous tegra board... )
Did you notice that the SoC, all by itself, takes 10W? That suggests that an SBC based on the chip would need a 3-4A power supply. What I *didn't* see in the article is anything about what the "8 cores" actually are. The "8 core" SBCs that have come out so far are based on the ARM big.LITTLE architecture and have 4 A15 cores plus 4 A7 cores.

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Re: dual/quad core alternatives

Mon Jan 05, 2015 6:17 pm

W. H. Heydt wrote:Did you notice that the SoC, all by itself, takes 10W? That suggests that an SBC based on the chip would need a 3-4A power supply. What I *didn't* see in the article is anything about what the "8 cores" actually are. The "8 core" SBCs that have come out so far are based on the ARM big.LITTLE architecture and have 4 A15 cores plus 4 A7 cores.
I guess the majority of the 10W is for the gpu cores? Plus the board looks to be about DIN size (or whatever the dash size car mount is - unsurprisingly for a board aimed at car use)

From Slashdot

" Today, NVIDIA unveiled its upcoming Tegra X1 system on a chip (SoC) and a few automotive computer systems leveraging the chip. Tegra X1 is a significant departure from the previous-gen Tegra K1 in that it features a 256 core Maxwell-derived GPU and eight CPU cores; four ARM A57 cores and four A53s in a big.LITTLE configuration. NVIDIA claims the Tegra X1 offers up to 2x the performance of the Tegra K1 in a similar power envelope, thanks to improved efficiency in the CPU and GPU cores and because the chips will be built using TSMC's 20nm manufacturing process."

I haven't found the nvidia announcement yet, but I have found the annouce video

more at http://hothardware.com/news/nvidia-unve ... -platforms

However I still want to see a genuine octacore board, preferably with some significant GPU cores.

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Re: dual/quad core alternatives

Mon Jan 05, 2015 6:35 pm

marked wrote:
W. H. Heydt wrote:Did you notice that the SoC, all by itself, takes 10W? That suggests that an SBC based on the chip would need a 3-4A power supply. What I *didn't* see in the article is anything about what the "8 cores" actually are. The "8 core" SBCs that have come out so far are based on the ARM big.LITTLE architecture and have 4 A15 cores plus 4 A7 cores.
I guess the majority of the 10W is for the gpu cores? Plus the board looks to be about DIN size (or whatever the dash size car mount is - unsurprisingly for a board aimed at car use)

From Slashdot

" Today, NVIDIA unveiled its upcoming Tegra X1 system on a chip (SoC) and a few automotive computer systems leveraging the chip. Tegra X1 is a significant departure from the previous-gen Tegra K1 in that it features a 256 core Maxwell-derived GPU and eight CPU cores; four ARM A57 cores and four A53s in a big.LITTLE configuration. NVIDIA claims the Tegra X1 offers up to 2x the performance of the Tegra K1 in a similar power envelope, thanks to improved efficiency in the CPU and GPU cores and because the chips will be built using TSMC's 20nm manufacturing process."

I haven't found the nvidia announcement yet, but I have found the annouce video

more at http://hothardware.com/news/nvidia-unve ... -platforms

However I still want to see a genuine octacore board, preferably with some significant GPU cores.
At least I got the core pattern (if not types) right. One wonders if it *needs* a heat sink?

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Re: dual/quad core alternatives

Mon Jan 05, 2015 10:32 pm

I would expect it does, essential when running all 8 cores (and probably 4) at the same time. Usually BIG.little uses 4 or 4, not 4 and 4. Using all 8 would require a lot of power and heat dissipation.
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Re: dual/quad core alternatives

Thu Jan 08, 2015 3:33 pm

I thought the rpi used a quad core processor??

Is that not why the vc4 QPU are called QPU because Q=quad P=processor U=unit?????

There seem to be so many people demanding more memory and processing when the memory and processing already available is not being utilised properly.

Of course I suppose some good documentation for programming the vc4 would help, but even then I doubt there are many people that would bother spending the large amount of time that is required to understand and utilise a processor architecture. I get the feeling if you took the whole 14-20 year old population in education only about 40-50 kids would want to look at such low level stuff each year, unless they were forced to do the work. I think the rpi has everything needed to learn how to program multicore programming already, just the cores available are only one ARM and the others are vc4 cores (does that make it a manycore not a multicore?).

I not sure how efficient linux is at using multicores anyway, more cores can cause all sorts of extra programming problems with cache and synchronisation, if the kernel is not optimized well for the particular architecture. Switching on and off cores can be expensive using wrong processor type for a given task is a bad idea.

Everyone wants more speed but most do not know why or how to use it, other than because they don't want to spend any time working out how to get what they need from the existing system.

I know nothing about cpu design so what I say is irrelevant, but I cannot see why extra cores are preferential, I would much rather see the sinlge ARM core clocked higher, if the rpi single ARM core could be clocked to 1.5GHz I think that would be far better.

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Re: dual/quad core alternatives

Thu Jan 08, 2015 4:02 pm

There is one ARM core, and on the GPU two scaler/vector cores, 12 Quads, and a bunch of dedicated HW blocks.

So it is technically a multicore system, but not very easy to use in that way.

Linux on the ARM core is already multicore/multiprocess, so if you write multithreaded code, it will work. It simply multi tasks on one core rather than handing tasks off to other cores. If you move to a different multicore CPU running Linux, any multithreaded code you wrote on the Pi will simply just keep working but will take advantage of the extra cores.
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Re: dual/quad core alternatives

Sun Jan 11, 2015 4:54 am

Maybe in a few years all of the modern processors will be out of date and dirt cheap so people can easily afford a computer using these processors and the pi foundation does what it did in the beginning of the pi and take advantage of it. 8-)
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Re: dual/quad core alternatives

Sun Jan 11, 2015 10:39 am

Allwinner recently announced the A53, a 64bit quadcore for 5$ - I assume that is for tablet/phone quantity volume. However that is probably 9-12 months away yet.

A33 quadcore (four cortex a7) at 4$, with mali 400mp2 GPU - I have no idea as to what pricing for additional memory/board design on top.

So looking for 100s of cores on mobile gpus should be down to similar pricing levels, if they aren't integrated already, particularly post-CES2015. Adapteva's Parallela epiphany-16 may be down further, however I would also assume that we need to see the epiphany 64 to be sampled/priced out.

a suitable raspberry pi c+ follow on should be at least a quad core to teach multithreaded/multicore programming. However I assume the programming methodology and teaching materials are still around undergrad level?

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